We propose that one’s subjective well-being (SWB) arises from the satisfaction of one’s basic needs, but that the importance of attaining specific needs will vary according to one’s gender, age, and national culture. We argue that the role of one’s national-cultural background in that process can best be unpackaged in terms of the emphasis of a nation’s citizens on the goals for socializing children, namely, self-directedness versus other-directedness and civility versus practicality. Accordingly, we analyzed the responses of 65,025 persons across 50 nations to questions on the World Values Survey about their perceived state of health, financial satisfaction, trust of in-group members, and sense of personal control over events. Using HLM analysis, we showed that all four factors were significant predictors of SWB pan-nationally, but that the linkages of financial satisfaction and trust of in-group members to SWB were moderated by a nation’s self-directedness and civility; those of financial satisfaction and health were moderated by age. These results indicate that the socialization emphases characterizing one’s national culture operate to make some of the key contributors to one’s SWB more or less predictive. Cross-national studies are thereby vindicated in their capacity to reveal nation-specific formulas for psychological processes leading to SWB.
- Subjective well-being
- Needs satisfaction
- Socialization goals for children
- Age and gender